"House Negro" (also "house Nigger") is a pejorative term for a black person, used to compare someone to a house slave of a slave owner from the historic period of legal slavery in the US. The term comes from a speech "Message to the Grass Roots" (1963) by African American activist Malcolm X, wherein he explains that during slavery, there were two kinds of slaves: "house Negroes", who worked in the master's house, and "field Negroes" (also "field Niggers"), who performed the manual labor outside.
He characterizes the house Negro as having a better life than the field Negro, and thus unwilling to leave the plantation and potentially more likely to support existing power structures that favor whites over blacks. Malcolm X identified with the field Negro. The term is used against individuals, in critiques of attitudes within the African American community, and as a borrowed term for critiquing parallel situations.
In New Zealand in 2012, Hone Harawira, a Member of Parliament and leader of the socialist Mana Party, aroused controversy after referring to Maori MPs from the ruling New Zealand National Party as "little house niggers" during a heated debate on electricity privatisation, and its potential effect on Waitangi Tribunal claims.
- ^ "Obama a 'house negro', says Al-Qaeda" Sydney Morning Herald, November 21, 2008
- ^ "Black Group Condemns Cartoonist for Racist Strip About Condoleezza Rice," Project 21 press release, July 19, 2004
- ^ "The Bridge: In the House", from the blog of Darryl James, author of "Bridging The Black Gender Gap"
- ^ "The Secretary: Capitalism's House Nigger," Kathi Roche, from the Women's Liberation Movement on-line archival collection, Special Collections Library, Duke University
- ^ Danya Levy & Kate Chapman (2012-09-06). "Harawira's N-bomb directed at National MPs". Fairfax NZ.
Malcolm X Speaks, George Breitman, ed. (New York: Grove Weidenfeld Publishers, 1990). ISBN 0-8021-3213-8